I’d understand this attitude if I took to the streets with a sign saying “the Devil ROOLS OK!” and was dressed in a devils suit. I wasn’t. I had black on, with funny glasses, and my son and his friend were dressed as ninjas. Because we haven’t gone trick or treating before, I took a huge bag of lollies for the neighbours to give the kids…. For me, it was more about the lollies and having fun. I understand that life is serious, and that there is evil lurking. But, must we imbue every fun childhood tradition with EVIL and SATAN where there is really only a bit ‘o’ fun? For me, the important thing about Christianity is that Jesus was a dude who loved us sooooo much, that he died for us and the rest of the world, so that we would have everlasting evidence of how much God loves us. It was all planned. It’s something that sustains me when crappy things happen. God’s love…it’s strong. It’s a lot stronger than a pair of devil’s horns and a plastic bucket with a pumpkin on it.
So much of what’s wrong with faith these days is making judgements about how we worship the big guy in the sky, or if we believe in him at all. My gorgeous mum knows how much I struggle with the attitude of “you must believe or it’s the fiery furnace for you” – she says that only God knows what is in a person’s heart and what their relationship with him is. That makes me feel better – God is the one who is in control – not me. It’s not my place or anyone else’s to judge where God fits into another person’s life…or to dictate what they believe or the choices that they make.
A couple of years ago, my husband Richard and I attended the funeral of a loving, kind, Christian woman who lived a gorgeous life of love for others, regardless of their faith. A perfect opportunity to tell the non-believers there more about the God who helped her live such an amazing life. ….But unfortunately, one of the members of that congregation used the opportunity to address the captive audience about the small matter of their un-savedness. Fiery furnaces and eternal damnation were mentioned, along with a sprinkling of saliva as the fervent and fired up speaker doused this dear lady’s memory with lashings of guilt and judgement. I don’t think many of those people will return to church. To me, that’s not what God is all about. God is love!
I recently wrote in my blog about my two younger sisters and their approaches to their personal walk with Jesus. The upshot of it is that our views are vastly different – but we haven’t yet come to blows over the Christmas dinner table. Despite our differences, or perhaps because of them, we all still worship the same God. We believe that God has his hand on our lives, that he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, and that he is the way to have a relationship with God. Same God, but very different people. So, please don't switch off when you hear that we're Christians. We may have the same core beliefs, but there are many different flavours.